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Jeremy Corbyn is 'newly confident' in tackling Labour antisemitism, leading activist tells Jewish supporters

Rhea Wolfson told a Jewish Labour Movement fringe event at the party's conference that progress was being made on Jew-hate

    Rhea Wolfson stood as a Labour candidate in June's general election
    Rhea Wolfson stood as a Labour candidate in June's general election

    Jeremy Corbyn is showing "new confidence" in engaging with the Jewish community and is getting to grips with Labour’s antisemitism crisis, a senior Jewish Labour Movement activist has claimed.

    Rhea Wolfson, who sits on the party’s national executive committee and is an organiser for the left-wing Momentum group, said Mr Corbyn's decision to reopen the investigation into Ken Livingstone over his Hitler and Zionism comments "should give us confidence to move forward”.

    Speaking to a packed JLM fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Sunday night, Ms Wolfson, an ex-chair of the Zionist Youth Council, also said her position on the NEC disputes panel had convinced her the party was serious about tackling antisemitism.

    Ms Wolfson was joined on a panel by MPs Luciana Berger, Tulip Siddiq and Alex Sobel and JLM vice-chair Mike Katz at the event.

    Addressing what Labour needed to do to win back Jewish voters in the so-called "bagel belt" seats in north-west London, she said she had been appalled by the decision of the party's disciplinary body not to expel Mr Livingstone.

    But Ms Wolfson, who went on to replace the suspended former Mayor of London on the NEC, added: "There is much more positive dialogue between the leadership and the community - particularly with the JLM.

    "I don’t understand how the decision [on Livingstone] was made. But what I am pleased with is that Jeremy has taken it back to the NCC.

    "That shows a new confidence in how he is engaging with the community and should give us confidence to move forward."

    Ms Wolfson also attempted to paint a positive picture of the left-wing Momentum movement - which has been at the heart of anti-Zionist activity within Labour.

    She said the grassroots movement had taken steps to "put in place standards" and that it should be praised for the "maturity" it showed during the general election campaign.

    "I would describe it as Momentum 2.0 where we are right now,” said Ms Wolfson. "I say that in a positive way - in the way it has integrated with the party."

    Ms Wolfson also confirmed there were still regular expulsions from the party over antisemitism - but said the fact they were being dealt with efficiently was a sign that the party's "processes are working”.

    She said most cases of antisemitism reaching the NEC required "no debate, no discussion, and they are unanimously condemned”.

    Ms Berger said that while cases of antisemitism were still of concern there were signs of "the first steps of real action" by the Labour leadership in tackling the issue.

    She expressed her hope that a JLM rule change making antisemitic abuse and harassment by Labour members a punishable offence would be backed by the party at a conference debate on Tuesday.

    Both Mr Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson have backed the rule change - which was given unanimous backing by the NEC last week.

    Ms Berger said: "We are not there yet, but as a result of what happened last week, there is the prospect of real change."

    Ms Siddiq said her success in the June election, in which she increased her majority in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, was partly down to her Jewish electorate's belief in "social justice".

    Mr Katz, who was narrowly beaten in the Hendon seat in June, said it was time for the party to show it could "move on from antisemitism”.

    He said he relished a Labour conference when the JLM agenda could focus on issues such as schooling, housing and social justice.

    Mr Sobel attacked the far-left Jewish Voice For Labour group, which he claimed had lobbied him to vote against the JLM rule change proposal.

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